People in some parts of the world find positive emotions more desirable than others. What accounts for this variability? We predicted that happiness would be valued less under conditions where the behaviors that happiness promotes would be less beneficial. We analyzed international survey data and United Nations voting records and found that happiness was valued relatively less in environments that had been historically pathogen-rich. Using a series of experimental studies, we showed that people who were experimentally primed by the threat of pathogens judged happiness in others less favorably and found happiness less appropriate. Our findings contribute to research on the function of positive emotions by providing insight into the boundary conditions under which happiness is deemed desirable.
Emotion, culture, pathogen threats, happiness, subjective well-being, life satisfaction
PhD in Psychology
Singapore Management University
City or Country
KOH, Sharon Li Hua.
The (Un) Desirability of Happiness: Pathogen Threats Predict Differences in the Value of Happiness. (2014). 1-53. Dissertations and Theses Collection (Open Access).
Available at: http://ink.library.smu.edu.sg/etd_coll/120
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Available for download on Friday, December 01, 2017